“Don’t never cross a road what a black cat cross—
Taint nothin’ but sorrow, taint nothin’ but loss.”
When I read the poem “Black Cat” by Nancy Byrd Turner as a kid, I had a 6 year old’s cat-lady-in-waiting’s impression of what I say now: horsefeathers and hairballs.
Even then, I knew that what was unlucky about black cats, and cats in general, were the horrible, rotten situations that they got into over the years. They were burned at the stake with people accused of witchcraft in the Middle Ages, when customs and practices were downright medieval. They were used for sport in horrific ways (here’s a link if you want to read about it. Some of us are sensitive and can’t bring themselves to write a summary.).
In Ancient Egypt, cats were living the life as demigods for their beauty, prowess at ridding the palaces of rodents, and their fetching behavior of knocking the styli off the papyrus. Pet cats were mummified and given royal burials, but mummified cats were also used as sacrifices to Bast. Dirtbags who could put puppy-mill breeders to shame (almost) created a cat-mummy black market by breeding or finding them, killing them brutally, and selling them as sacrifices. In Egypt during that time, killing a cat was a feline-y punishable by death, but money talks, as always.
As tough as life has been for cats throughout history, black cats fared worse with the evil that some cultures associated with the color black. Even today, comparatively benign and cartoonish Halloween decorations include black cats, sometimes perched on broomsticks with warty witches. Superstition still hangs out under the table like the remnants of a badly chewed cat toy, and it adds to the idea that black cats—black dogs, too—have difficulty getting adopted.
But opinions about whether that’s the case and if so, why, are varied. Rescues like Zazzy Cats and Jellicle Cats often take in black cats because others won’t accept them. But special black-cat-adoption days, even on Halloween, suggest that the undercat status is something other than evil, evil, ayeeeevil.
“To be honest, that’s what goes around [the idea that black cats are difficult to find homes for], but Little Lion Foundation hasn’t had too much of a hard time getting black cats adopted,” said Claudia Marie, Little Lion’s cofounder. “I think in the past, that was a thing, but so many people now come to our events looking for black cats.”
Brandy Gaunt, who heads the nonprofit Jellicle Cat Rescue Foundation, has done several black-cat-adoption events, and the cats get lucky because they don’t have any varicolored animals relegating them to the background.
“There are theories that your eye naturally gravitates to lighter colors, and black cats can be overlooked,” said Jill Prout, a member of the adoption team at Long Beach Animal Care Services. “But there are a lot of people who are black cat fans because of that ‘underdog’ status—similar to the pit-bull community. There are diehard black cat folks out there!”
Photographing black cats for adoption pages also has its challenges.
“Some issues are, it’s harder to read their expressions—no eyebrows, a bigger contrast for teeth and eyes—and it’s harder to take photos of them for online adoption portals,” said Eden Amans, Helen Sanders CatPAWS’s volunteer photographer.
Both Prout and Amans did mention “common superstitions” as a factor, but there was more emphasis put on presentation.
“You need to maybe put bling collars on them to draw attention to them so people can see how friendly or beautiful they are,” said Roni Naccarato, founder of Zazzy Cats Rescue. “Put a diamond collar on a black cat, and it says, hey, look at me, I’m Elizabeth Taylor! Or Liberace!”
Naccarato also recommended introducing people to black cats first to put them at the forefront of people’s minds, and Prout also suggested to remind them that “black cat hair matches everything.”
A long-held urban myth tells of cult members and freaks adopting black cats on Halloween for purposes of torture and ritual sacrifice, but sources dismiss it as overblown. Anyone willing to pay an adoption fee and provide all their personal information and possibly submit to a home visit likely won’t be using a cat for nefarious purposes, and cruel people don’t need Halloween as an excuse to torment an animal. Some shelters and rescues, including those in and around Long Beach, are at least as cautious as they would normally be, while others refuse to adopt black cats at all.
It must be noted that reports of animal abuse do go up slightly around Halloween season. Animals spending their time outdoors are usually the targets, so for Bast’s sake, please keep your cats indoors.
Before introducing the little undercats, here’s an excerpt from a poem titled “Black Kitten,” from Francesco Marciulliano’s “My Mommy Kneads Me.” It’s as pointed as a cat’s ears.
But if you think all of this is an evil omen
If you think all of that is pure bad luck
Then yes, you will endure great misfortune
Because without me your life will suck.
Long Beach Animal Care Services produced a video featuring three absolutely not macabre black cats, with a musical score worthy of “Bride of Frankenstein,” or maybe “The Black Cat.” This article made the point that black cats aren’t bearers of malevolence but cats in black fur, but hey, it’s Halloween, and what better way to get an adopter’s attention? The cats don’t give a whisker—they just want outta the shelter and into your house, where they’ll haunt your computer monitor and leave invisible pawprints on your heart.
Starring Dizzy (ID#A630734), Meg (ID#A633258) and Oliver (ID#A626305). Meet them in person at the shelter at 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, at the entrance to El Dorado Park. No parking fee for shelter visitors.
Things to do, pets to support
Please send any Long Beach or Seal Beach pet-related events or projects to [email protected]. Posting subject to approval.
Lauren’s Fab 50th Fundraiser for FOLBA: Saturday, Oct. 26, 6:30–10:30 p.m., Expo Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, $20 minimum donation at the door, includes a beverage coupon
It’s gotten to the point at which you say, if you want to help a bunch of animals, call a drag queen and her friends. And boy, do they ever help! You know you’re in for a good time at this birthday party for the benefit of Friends of Long Beach Animals when you’ve got Jennifer Corday performing, Dani Carter MCing, drag queen Cassie Love sashaying, and Justin Rudd special-guesting. Wear your cocktail black-and-whites—it’s gonna be real fancy. All profits will go to Friends of Long Beach Animals to continue their spay/neuter and animal-welfare efforts.
Pit Bull Appreciation Day: Saturday, Oct. 26, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Marine Stadium, 5255 Paoli Way, Long Beach, free
And it’s 2! 4! 6! 8! Who do we appreciate? Those silly, goofy, misunderstood-but-getting-better-by-the-moment pit bull dogs and mixes! Have fun rolling around with Rover on a yoga mat, trotting in a pack walk, learning about foster and pet care, purchasing raffle items and doggies to adopt. The event is brought to you by Blockhead Brigade, Live Love Animal Rescue and Lucky Dog Humane Education.
Haute Dog Howl’oween and Vendor Adoption Fair: Sunday, Oct. 27, 12:30 p.m., Marina Vista Park, 5355 E. Eliot St., Long Beach, $10 advance for each canine participant, $5 for a front-row chair, free to stand and spectate
OOOOOO! OWWWRRRROOO! Zombiedogs and pooch pirates and superhero mutts, all in the cutest costumes you’ll ever see! Justin Rudd and his Community Action Team (CAT) host what’s touted as the biggest Halloween pet event in the world! Shop for your best buddy at the vendors, or adopt one if you don’t have one or want a friend for your pal, and delight at a parade and judged contest featuring over 500 costumed dogs! The contest winner will get dog food for a year! Registration will open soon.
Mod Pizza Fundraiser for Fix Long Beach: Sunday, Oct. 27, 10:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Mod Pizza, 4230 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, menu prices vary
Grab a slice, a whole pie, a salad or anything, and get everything on it! Fix Long Beach will get 20% of the tab to help spay and neuter our animals!
Fix Long Beach Free Spay/Neuter Clinic: Saturday, Nov. 9, 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m., 1500 E Carson St., Long Beach, free spay/neuter appointments for qualifying people; free microchips, shots, flea-med doses, dewormers and nail trimmings $10 each.
The best way to mitigate shelter euthanasia is to tamp the source, and that’s why we’re here. Our shelter and rescues are packed with cats and dogs, and everyone doing rescue is chasing their tail trying to get them all adopted. The best way for our community to help out is to turn off the taps at the other end so that more won’t be born. Remember: it’s the law to fix your pet in Long Beach, and Fix is here to help you do just that. Appointments are available for future clinics—make one at [email protected], or PM us on Facebook. More information is available here.
Sparky and the Gang’s Fourth Annual Black Dog Tan Chihuahua event: Saturday, Nov. 16, 4–10 p.m., Elinor, 250 N. Tribune Court, Long Beach, tickets $45
Dress up in your dapper flappers and raise funds for Sparky and the Gang dog rescue! Enjoy a puppet performance by Rasputin Marionettes and meet quick-change artist go go Amy. Food from Gelson’s and cupcakes from Miss Priss will tempt your Prohibition sensibilities. Can we say barkeasy? Al Ca-Bone, maybe? Tickets available at [email protected] at PayPal. Make sure you specify tickets in note. More information available here.
Live Love Animal Rescue Adoption Event: Saturday, Nov. 23, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. The Circle, 1755 Ximeno Ave., Long Beach, adoption fees apply
See Live Love’s wonderful little adoptables, and get a discount on CBD veterinary products.
The 2020 pet calendars are ready to wag in the new year, with favorite pinups on each month.
Helen Sanders CatPAWS Show Us Your Kitties calendar: $10 each, available here.
Southern California Bulldog Rescue Ador-a-bull Calendar: $25 each, available here.
Seal Beach Animal Care Center 2020 Calendar: available here in mid-November.
Has your dog been waiting for that walk down the runway? Has your cat been waiting to be discovered as the star they know they are? It is now their time to shine! The 13 cats and 13 dogs with the most votes will become a monthly model, with the top cat and top dog as cover pets. Whether you’re a winner or a beloved entrant, the pets at Seal Beach Animal Care Center will profit from your entry—all funds will go to their care. Details available here.
Pick Your Price Adoption Promo at the shelter continues through Oct. 31, where you can bring home a new best buddy and cuddle during the cooling days of autumn. Cats, dogs, rabbits—and if your kid has been pestering you for a horse, don’t worry. We haven’t any.
Have an overnight with a kitty with Foster Fridays! The shelter has kittens coming out of the walls—literally. The shelter manager constantly has a few in her office! The shelter is at capacity, especially where cats are concerned, so fosters are sorely needed. Every Friday from 2-5 p.m., shelter staff is inviting residents who have the necessary accommodations—a safe space, time to feed them and play with them, and a propensity to say “Awwww!” every 15 minutes—to take a healthy, weaned kitten home for a while. Shelter will provide food, litter and a carrier and will cover any offsite medical. Time commitment is two weeks, with an option to adopt—of course! Foster fail! Have questions? Contact the shelter director at [email protected].
Feline Good Social Club: 301 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, open daily 10 a.m.–7 p.m., $15 for an hour session, $8 for a “quickie” half-hour
There’s just too much stuff going on in this wonderland for moggies! Bring your lunch and socialize with the friendliest and most entertaining group of cats you’ll ever meet (especially Fancy Feet and his giant hamster wheel), or sign up here for one of the many activities: Cats and Mats yoga, Sound Healing, Kids Club—all of it. Fill out an application to adopt! All proceeds go to maintaining the Lounge and, of course, the cats!
Register for Strut Your Mutt Los Angeles
Best Friends Animal Society is teaming up with our partner rescue groups, shelters and animal-welfare organizations to help save the lives of homeless cats and dogs at Strut Your Mutt. Local Long Beach groups such as The Little Lion Foundation are participating, and animal advocates and lovers will be coming from everywhere. Register for the Walk or donate if you have a pet who just won’t be walked—cats come to mind. All funds raised go directly to lifesaving programs such as spay/neuter, adoption, and a KITTEN NURSERY! This year’s event is on October 26, 2019 at Exposition Park in Los Angeles—all information is available here.
Instructional Pack Walk: First Saturday of the month, 10–11 a.m., Bixby Park, 130 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, free, donations accepted
The public is invited to take part in a walk sponsored by Trot’s Dog Walking and Training that will help you and your best buddy learn proper leash manners and focus on each other instead of the distractions of the “real world.” Trot’s experienced pack leaders are there to guide you through the process. Meet at the park at the corner of Ocean Boulevard and Junipero Avenue at 10 a.m.
Donations accepted for Pets of the Homeless
Pets of the Homeless’ home page gives a self-description as the only organization focusing only on providing food and care for pets belonging to homeless people. Businesses and other organizations across the country receive in-kind donations of food and other needs that the dogs and cats’ human families can pick up at outreach locations. The following Long Beach businesses will accept your donations:
Trendi Pawz, 255 Redondo Ave., Long Beach
Belmont Heights Animal Hospital, 255 Redondo Ave., Long Beach
Paw Shoppe Pet Center, Inc., 6416 E. Spring St., Long Beach
Food and supplies are available at Beacon for Him Ministries, 1535 Gundry Ave. Long Beach, Mondays from 9:00 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3:00 p.m.; and at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. Third St., Long Beach, Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.
Adopt, adopt, adopt
The following pet-related businesses regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions. If you’re a Long Beach-area rescue and don’t see your adoption event listed here, please email [email protected]. Click on the links for each rescue in case of updates or changes.
Chase Bank, 5200 E. Second St., Long Beach
- Long Beach Spay & Neuter Foundation, noon–4 p.m.
The Farmer’s Marketplace of Long Beach, 5000 E. Spring St. (Spring and Clark), Long Beach
- Long Beach Animal Care Services along with other pet-rescue and pet-foster groups, fourth Sunday of each month, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Gelson’s Market, 6255 E. Second St.
- Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue, second Sunday of each month
Kahoots Pet Store, 18681 Main St. #102, Huntington Beach
- Zoey’s Place Rescue, fourth Saturday of each month, noon–4 p.m.
Pet Food Express, 4220 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach:
- Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center, permanent adoption center, business hours alternate weekends, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
- Fix Long Beach, occasional weekends
- Live Love Animal Rescue, first Saturday of each month, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
- Ozzie and Friends Rescue, 11 a.m.–2 p.m., alternate Sundays.
- The Little Lion Foundation, alternate weekends, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
- Zazzy Cats
PetSmart Cerritos, 12741 Towne Center Dr, Cerritos
- The Little Lion Foundation, permanent adoption center, store hours
PetSmart Compton, 1775 South Alameda St., Compton
- Zazzy Cats Kitty Rescue,permanent adoption center, store hours
- Rabbit Rescue Inc., one adoptable rabbit daily, store hours
PetSmart Garden Grove, 9835 Chapman Ave, Garden Grove
- The Little Lion Foundation, permanent adoption center, store hours
PetSmart, Long Beach Exchange, 3871 N Lakewood Blvd., Long Beach
PetSmart Seal Beach, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach.
- Helen Sanders CatPAWS permanent adoption center, store hours
- Sparky and the Gang, Saturdays, 1–3:30 p.m.
- Dogs in Need, Saturdays, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
PetSmart Signal Hill, 2550 Cherry Ave., Signal Hill
- Kitty Katchers, Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
- Stray Cat Alliance, permanent adoption center, store hours
PetSmart Towne Center, 7631 Carson Blvd., Long Beach
Unleashed by Petco, 600 Redondo Ave.
- Foreverhome Pet Rescue, Inc., Sundays, noon–4 p.m.